Man guilty in teen's killing

Charges dropped against same man in his father's death

December 12, 2007|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,Sun reporter

Mathaddues Rozier, a Baltimore man accused of killing his own father and a 15-year-old on the same day two years ago, pleaded guilty yesterday to second-degree murder of the teenager.

Rozier was sentenced to 25 years in prison for that crime, and prosecutors dropped charges in the case involving his 79-year-old father, Alvester Rozier.

It's the end of a bizarre tale that involved a public quarrel between police and prosecutors.

Police originally charged Gerald P. Reed with the Dec. 27, 2005, shooting death of Alvester Rozier. And they charged Mathaddues Rozier with fatally shooting the teenager, Travis Harris, a suspected drug associate of Reed's, out of revenge.

The deaths, police said at the time, could have been prevented if prosecutors had issued an arrest warrant for Reed a day earlier, when they suspected Reed had tried to kill Mathaddues Rozier. But the bullet missed, just grazing Rozier's forehead.

Matt Jablow, the Police Department spokesman at the time, lambasted prosecutors' decision that there wasn't enough evidence to charge Reed with trying to kill Rozier.

Prosecutors defended themselves, saying Rozier was uncooperative and that an arrest warrant couldn't have been issued quickly enough anyway.

As that finger-pointing played out in the media, evidence emerged that Mathaddues Rozier - not Gerald Reed - had killed Alvester Rozier.

So on Jan. 12, 2006, prosecutors dropped charges against Reed and charged Rozier. He has been in jail awaiting trial ever since on the two murder charges.

Worried that those early missteps would ruin the chance of a trial victory, prosecutors instead sought a plea deal in Baltimore Circuit Court.

"It would have come up in trial that someone else had been arrested," said Margaret T. Burns, spokeswoman for the Baltimore State's Attorney's Office. "That issue would have been problematic when raised at trial."

Burns said there is evidence that the same gun was used to kill both victims. Apart from that, she said, "we had absolutely no evidence" in the case involving Alvester Rozier.

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